Summer is a time for reflecting over the achievements from the past season. The Quidditch Post presents our new seven-part series reviewing the 2016-17 seasons of all 21 league-official Quidditch Canada teams (sorted by final rankings).
4. McGill University Quidditch – Courtney Butler
With very few changes from its previous season’s roster and strong Canada’s Finest Quidditch Club (CFQC) players able to fill in the gaps, McGill was able to easily slip in as amongst the top in the Eastern region early on in the season. With the team travelling to several tournaments early in the season, it competed for top spots, falling short several times by very close games with other top–tier teams.
McGill put up a tough front at the regional championship, pushing to the top end of its pool and taking out Guelph University Quidditch Gryphons in a tough game to round out Day One. The depth of McGill lies in its quick passing, aggressive beating, and strong utilization of its female chasers. Notably, the double–female chaser line of Robyn Fortune and Grace O’Brien in tandem with the deadly male beater combination of Vlad Steanta and Corey Collier makes for a very intimidating line. Being one of the only teams in the league to effectively utilize the double–male beater and female chaser combination, many teams struggled to counteract this. On Day Two, McGill put up to tough games, including a hard fought semifinal against the eventual champions, the University of Ottawa DeeGees (UOttawa). A physical and fast–paced game with both teams giving it their all showed to be even more exciting than the final itself and ended in an extremely close score of 120*-100 for UOttawa. The team went on to face its Montreal neighbours, Université de Montréal Quidditch (UdeM), in a physical third place match up where they took a solid win for the bronze medal.
The team’s activity slowed down in the latter part of the season, as did many other teams that did not attend nationals in Victoria, but it continued to play in several Quebec series with Quidditch Lionel-Groulx and CFQC. McGill has always been a top contender in the Eastern region and Canada, and this season was no different.
5. Edmonton Aurors Quidditch – Nathan Ross
Let us get the obvious out of the way: Despite their fifth seed rank, the Edmonton Aurors closed out the 2016-17 season as national champions, and they looked good doing it. While we are at it, let us also appreciate that this was technically the first season for the Edmonton Aurors in league competition, as they are mostly comprised of the now defunct Alberta Clippers. To win it all in your first year is a pretty good sign that all the pieces are finally coming together for Edmonton, who thrived under the guidance of head coach Chris Radojewski.
After we selected them to win the Western Regional Championships back in November, the Aurors could not quite close the deal, losing 90*-80 against the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds Sports Club (TSC) in the final. The team took some time to reflect and regroup on its way to Victoria, where it was faced with an incredibly similar situation in its semifinal game against TSC, only this time to come out on top when it came to the snitch catch. The team, which boasts experienced veterans like Michelle Ferguson and Indiana Nikel to rookies so fresh that they are still in high school (Brayden Belmore), has come together as the champions of Canada this season. They are going to need everyone firing on all cylinders next season, with every other team in the country coming for their crown in the upcoming 2017-18 season.
The biggest challenge for the Aurors will be losing all-star chaser and seeker Indiana Nikel, who will be heading to the University of British Columbia next season for a Master’s degree. To not only lose a game-breaking player but to also potentially lose them to a regional rival will be harsh for the Aurors, meaning they can only celebrate their big win for so long before getting refocused again.
6. Waterloo Ridgebacks – Lisa Tubb
During the 2015-16 season, the Waterloo Ridgebacks continually presented a very cohesive, competitive team that had developed its own specific defence. This defensive system of 2-1-1 (two chasers forward, keeper by the hoops, a chaser behind the hoops) often confounded opposing teams, powering Waterloo past average teams. Despite the now well–established and ambitious program, the beginning of the 2016-17 season started slowly for the Ridgebacks. Club numbers were low as a result of former members made unavailable by co-op programs and a low intake of new members in initial recruitment drives. Additionally, the loss of Jonathan Golla and Alexander Scherger to Valhalla Quidditch cannot be neglected as factors of the Ridgebacks’ slow start to the season.
However, these issues did not plague the team as heavily as expected. The Ridgebacks powered past Université de Montréal (UdeM) (140*-80 and then 140*-70 later in October), University of Toronto Centaurs (UofT) (110*-0), and even the more physical Carleton Ravens (150*-70). Their only pre-regional championship loss was dealt by the University of Guelph Gryphons, which was still a close 90*-30 Gryphon victory, and the only game to that point which the Ridgebacks had not caught the snitch. Heading into the regional championship, the Ridgebacks had a solid base of experience to build off of, especially as they were faced with familiar teams in Day One pool play (Valhalla, Guelph, Carleton).
The pace certainly picked up, with players Brock Lowry, Jon Keates, and Mark Ferhman growing more physical and strategic on offense. On Day One, the Ridgebacks fought back against historically high-ranked teams, beating Queen’s University Quidditch by 100 points (180*-80), dismantling Carleton 160*-50, and forcing McGill into a snitch catch (150-110*). This was the team to watch on Day Two, but its already small roster had taken more than its share of injuries, contributing to a loss to UdeM (140*-70) and ultimately its chance at a championship bid. However, this team should definitely not be underestimated. A majority of rookies have now been put through a trial by fire and are most certainly thirsty for more for the upcoming season. These rookies have picked up the game extremely quickly, finishing sixth in the rankings, and hypothetically could have gone farther at the regional championship if not for the battering middle–tier teams took on Day Two.
This article is part of a series of season recaps. The next part of our series will recap the seasons of Université de Montréal, University of Guelph Gryphons, and Queen’s University Quidditch.